Ep 65: [ENCORE] Create Gratitude by Letting Go of “Negative Gratitude”

Do you try to “look at the brighter side” anytime you feel negative emotions? If so, you are practicing “Negative Gratitude.” Instead, take a deeper dive into your positive and negative emotions so that you can create a joyful gratitude practice that honors what you feel while fueling your daily life.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • The more we try to fix emotions we don’t want, the more we amplify them 
  • Why allowing others to be seen and heard is the most loving thing 
  • “Looking at the brighter side” is not always the best advice
  • Emotions are simply vibrations in our body that we label “good/bad”
  • How to see feelings as waves that rise and then fall away
  • Feeling an emotion we don’t like does not mean something has gone wrong
  • How to see emotions as cyclical and be willing to experience the full range 
  • The most loving question we can ask before “spewing negative gratitude”
  • How deep breathing allows you to “blow into the vibration” of feelings
  • The 3 steps to create a daily “habit for living” gratitude practice

When we are willing to get in touch with the full range of negative and positive emotions, instead of trying to fix or push away,  the more able we are to experience authentic gratitude for ourselves, and hold the most loving space for others so they can do the same.

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Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Transcript:

00:09 – Speaker 1
 Welcome to the Mom On Purpose Podcast. I’m Lara Johnson and I’m here to teach you how to get out of your funk, be in a better mood, play more with your kids, manage your home better, get your to-do list done and live your life on purpose. With my proven method, this is possible for you, and I’ll show you how. You’re not alone anymore. We’re in this together.

00:47 – Speaker 2
Hi, welcome back to the Mom On Purpose Podcast. I am your host, Lara Johnson, and I have to tell you about a superpower that I have. One of the things that my brain loves to do is to look for trends and patterns, and my clients and my brain and my kids and parenting groups, Facebook groups that I’m part of. I am going to share with you one of those patterns that I see a lot and that I have lovingly labeled negative gratitude. As I go through and explain this concept that I’ve created of negative gratitude, I want you to think about if you have ever done one of these, if someone has ever said one of these things to you, or if you’ve said it to someone else. That’s how you’ll know. This podcast episode is for you when someone has confided hard stuff in you that they’re going through, or maybe if you’re having a tough time for yourself. There’s a couple really specific phrases that we say I want you to be on the lookout on if you’ve said something well, if you have said this, or if you’ve said something similar. The first is when somebody confides in you as you say something like oh, this is really hard, but so-and-so has this going on. Then you start talking about some other person that seems to have something much harder that they’re experiencing. Another example is at least you don’t have to worry about. And then you share something about some kind of worry or obstacle that you’re experiencing right now, after somebody just shared with you something that they were experiencing. Another one and I see this a lot in the ways that we talk with our children specifically is after they’ve told us about something really hard that’s going on, we say, okay, well, let’s look at the bright side, and then we start saying all the positive things that are still going on, even though they just shared something that was really hard. Or another one is you say something along the lines like they just explained something to you, and you say, okay, so here’s what we’re going to do to fix this, and then you start loading on a whole bunch of advice for them on how to change whatever they’re experiencing right now. And then the last one I see this most in our self-talk, like in the self-talk that my clients have is, or when we’re kind of frustrated with our kids, when they’re kind of grouchy, as you say oh my gosh, you have so much to be grateful for. Why are you cranky right now and then you start listing out all of the things in their life that are good and that are going great for them, like look around you, you have so much to be grateful for. So, the reason why I wanted to talk about this today is one because this is a pattern that I am seeing a lot. 
It like I mentioned in the beginning, but also because that the reason why we do this is not because we’re trying to practice gratitude. It really comes from our discomfort of feeling negative emotions and how we want to fix those negative emotions, because we believe people should be happy all of the time. As one of those underlying beliefs, it’s not a bad thing to be happy. Let’s get very clear on that. It’s not a bad thing to be joyful, and we talk a lot about on this podcast on how to increase our internal temperature for joy, because I believe that we have a much higher capacity to feel joy and to feel happiness. But in this moment, when we are using phrases like this, it doesn’t work, because what we’re doing is we’re taking a negative emotion, we’re slapping some positive thoughts on it, putting it on a crystal platter and serving the perfect shame sandwich to somebody else when we’re saying you know we’re going to force gratitude into submission. Basically, now, I know that’s not your intent and I know that it is totally out of love, and we can even love someone and still be trying to force them out of negative emotions, and it’s a very subconscious thing that we’re doing because of our discomfort with negative emotions. So, when we’re feeling emotions and if you go back to, I believe it’s episode three where we really dive into what emotions are Emotions are cyclical. 
Emotions are going to come up no matter what phase we’re at in life. We are going to have positive and negative emotions at all times, any given point in our life. We’re never going to reach some destination where we are happy. All the time We’ve reached the top of this mountain and no matter what happens, we will never feel another negative emotion. That doesn’t exist, at least not on this earth and the human experience that I believe God has created for us. 
It just doesn’t work that way, and so we have to become really comfortable not only with our own negative emotions but with other people feeling negative emotions, and we have to allow. We don’t have to, but I would challenge you to allow space for all of us to feel a range of emotions at all given times, and so when we’re and let me get really clear when we’re seeing these things to somebody again, it can still be out of love, but it won’t ever help them feel more gratitude. It actually like it’s not like we’re seeing these things. They start to reject it and will start to push you away. And even if you’re telling yourself this, you’ll start to push yourself away Because your brain isn’t on board, and neither is your body. Your body is still in that wave, at the peak of its emotion, and so if you’re trying to talk it out of what it’s feeling, it will start to push back and start to resist you even more. And I see this a lot with my clients when they’re trying to help their kid get out of their negative emotion. But their kid is pushing back so hard because of the way they’re going about it with this negative gratitude. And so it’s really important that you recognize that when you go to this place again, it may be out of love, but in reality, the underlying thing is that you are uncomfortable with negative emotion and you are uncomfortable with other people’s negative emotions, and so, in order to feel better, you want them to get out of their negative emotions, but what starts to happen is their negative emotions or your own negative emotions will be amplified the more you practice negative gratitude and the more you try and force that gratitude into submission. 
So I really wanted to spend time on this and I’m going to share a very small example, because this is one that you know we’ve all experienced. Okay, because it’s going to outline the best thing that we can do when somebody is feeling negative emotions around us and how we can support them in it. So, I love my husband so dearly. He is an amazing man. We were very good friends even before we started dating. He is like, he loves very deeply. He’s not like an overly like affectionate person. He’s not very touchy-feely, but the way that he shows love is he loves to help and serve people. 
Now, for me, I am what I would call more of an emotional person, where, you know, for most of my life I actually didn’t think I had a motion, so let’s get clear on that. But as I’ve gotten older and as I’ve been able to really embrace who I am on a much deeper level, I’ve started to realize that I have very big emotions and I will experience a full range of cycle of negative, or of just of the full spectrum of emotions at all times, including negative emotions. Now, there’s been times in the past where I’ve had a really bad day with the kids, and he comes home from work, and it’s just been really hard and I’m feeling a lot of emotions, and I will spew all of it all over him. The second he walks in the door, and I know that you’re relating to this right now where it’s like it’s like word vomit all over, you know, and as he’s wiping his eyes from my word vomit, he immediately goes into fix it mode and he starts telling me all the things that I can do different. Now, in that moment where I am at the peak of my negative emotion, I want to jump across the couch and claw his eyes out. 
Okay, because in that moment I am not wanting somebody to come in and fix things. I want him to hear me and see me for all the things that I am and the things that I am trying, and I want to be seen and heard in this negative emotion. Okay, I know you know what I’m talking about, because my guess is somebody that you love has done this for you as well, whether that’s a partner, a spouse, a sister, a friend. In those moments we want to be seen and heard in our emotions. We do not want somebody to come in and tell us to look at the brighter side or to start giving advice on things that we should do different. We want them to be with us and in order for them to be with us, they have to be uncomfortable being in negative emotions. Now, that doesn’t mean they take on our negative emotions, but it means that they’re not trying to fix us and that they can honor what we are feeling in that moment. So, the very best thing that we can do for other people is to first get comfortable with our own negative emotions. 
Now we do this, and the thought that I always have about negative emotions is that nothing has gone wrong, that the vibration that I am feeling in my body, that I am labeling as a negative emotion. Let’s just be clear, that’s a thought. Emotions are neutral, but it feels very intense. I can feel the vibration through my body. Remember, an emotion will come on like a wave. It will come on and it will start to feel really, really, really, really strong, and that’s where your brain will want to get out of it as quick as you can. I want you to stay with it, take a deep breath and, almost like you’re blowing into the inside of your body, as you’re breathing out, like you’re blowing right into the vibration you feel, yeah, as you do this, the emotion will start, the vibration will start to lessen and loosen inside of you and as that starts to happen, you’ll feel it start to pass through you. Remember, emotions are cyclical, so at any given point you’re going to be feeling a full spectrum of these emotions, and that’s okay. And other people will be feeling their own spectrum of emotions. 
And so one of the thoughts that I really practice in this moment, when somebody I care about is feeling something really hard and I feel really uncomfortable because they’re feeling really uncomfortable is I always say to myself like nothing has gone wrong right here and that God is helping them in ways that I cannot. And so, it’s almost like this really peaceful place, even though it’s hard and uncomfortable, I’m really putting my trust into God and for you, you know, it may be God, it may be the universe. You know, whatever that is, you can really just settle into your body and feel really grounded that this is part of their journey, just as this vibration is part of your journey, and that both of you are learning critical lessons for the rest of your life through it. And so that’s the first, that’s the first thing, the best thing you can do. So, we’re not, you know, spewing negative gratitude at people that we love. So, the second thing that you do, and it is a very simple one question that you can ask them. I will tell you that this question is highly effective, and it is the most loving thing that we can say in this moment to somebody that we care about. It is do you want me to listen, do you want me to give you a hug, or would you like me to give you advice Full stop, and you just allow it to sit there? Now, they may not answer you, and that’s okay, but what you’re doing in this moment is you are honoring what they are feeling, you are giving them space to stay wherever they are at and empowering them to give you suggestions on how you can support them, instead of you just jumping right in and going, going, going, going and giving all this advice and all that when really they’re like hold up, just back off just a little bit. So, at this moment, you can ask that question again Do you want me to listen? Do you want me to give you a hug, or do you want me to give you advice that enables them to decide how they want to move forward, based on how they are feeling? And whatever they choose, you can honor and that’s in the best way that you can support them. Then you know the third step and the best thing you can do, and I think about this with myself, I think about this, you know, within my family at a much later time, outside of these big emotional waves, that’s when I start developing a gratitude practice Now, a gratitude practice. 
And gratitude is not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a very good thing, and research shows us that people that really have that practice gratitude regularly, that it helps them have a more positive outlook on life. But if you’re trying to force that gratitude when you’re in a negative emotion, that’s where the negative gratitude comes into play. So, there’s no forcing gratitude. It’s okay to feel a full spectrum of emotions and you can develop a gratitude practice Now. For me, there was a time that I was really struggling in my life, and I wanted to become better at my gratitude practice and develop it more as just a habit of living in my life. For me, the best time to do that was, again, not in an emotional wave, but I just did it before bed because it was very relaxing and I didn’t want to just write down three things you know I could pull like I’m so grateful for drinking water and I’m grateful for functioning toilet and of course, I’m grateful for those things. 
But I wanted to go a little deeper into areas of my life, very specifically the people in my life, and so every single night, I wrote down my husband, my three children and my pets by name. And I wrote down one thing specifically that I was grateful for them that day. So, this is, you know, a more targeted gratitude practice. And I still go back, and you know my dog that was alive at the time. He’s passed away and I go back, and I read the things about my sweet Charlie. It was this big yellow lab that was my absolute best friend. He was my co-parent for a lot of years when my husband was working insane hours, and he was right there by my side through all of it and I have so much gratitude for him. And when I go and read the things that I wrote, the simple things that he did as a dog, every single day, I found one thing that really allowed me to feel gratitude and that was a practice that I developed outside of my full spectrum of emotions. And as I did that and as I was creating that habit, what happened was that I started to feel that joy inside of me. That joy then became my fuel for the next day, which was very different than telling myself I needed to look at the brighter side, or I should be more grateful when I was having a hard time in the moment during the day, where it didn’t actually create joy, it created shame, and that’s what was amplified and that’s what I was going off of as my energy for the day, and so that’s why I really would challenge you, as, if you do want to create a gratitude practice, find something specific that speaks to you, keep it outside of your emotional waves and allow it to really fuel you inside, to practice feeling the wave of joy as you go through that practice and have fun with it. It doesn’t have to be some particular way. You know, for me, I loved being able to write down you know one thing about the people and pets in my life, but if there’s another area that you’re really wanting to look at and to increase your practice around, then pick that area, or just have fun and have it be very general things. There’s no right way to feel gratitude, but the more you feel gratitude and feel the joy of it, the less you will experience negative gratitude and the less, or and the more you’ll be able to support others during the hard times and things that they’re experiencing in their life. So here is your podcast on negative gratitude. Again, it was just a concept I made, but I want you to really take this to heart. 
As we’re going into the full months and as we start moving towards Thanksgiving, where we typically talk about gratitude, I want you to really start developing this practice now. Now, as I’m presenting all of this information to you, I know that you’re feeling good and it’s very inspiring and I love being able to give that to you in your day, every single day. But what I was thinking about earlier, as I was coaching myself, was that we can learn, and we can feel good about these things. But here’s the deal is I don’t want you just to feel good about these things. I want you to change your life with these things and as part of that, it’s feeling the full spectrum of emotions. And so, as I was thinking about you and what you need at this time, I want you to really know that, as you’re moving through and applying these things, it becomes so much easier working with me to do that when I work one on one with my clients. There is that full accountability, where you’re learning these things, and you are applying them in your life. 
I feel that sometimes I might mislead people when I say you know, my podcast is like it is. It’s really good and I love being able to present it into the world and I feel like so, in alignment with God, as I’m talking about these things, and I want them to feel good. But in order to feel good, you have to feel more, and that’s why this topic was really important. Why I was thinking about this this morning is that when I work one on one with my clients, oftentimes they feel more before they feel good, which means they start feeling more doubt. They start feeling more discouragement and overwhelm and frustration. But instead of staying there year after year, they’re moving through it faster and faster, which is why they are accomplishing and doing and experiencing more in their life than they ever have before, at such an exponential rate, because they’re not just feeling good, they’re feeling more and are moving through it to create and to answer the purpose that’s within them. So, I really wanted to give that challenge to you. 
If these things feel good, but you are ready to feel more, click. Go down to the show notes and click on schedule a free consultation. These consultations are so targeted towards you and what you are experiencing in your life. In that one call you’ll get so clear on where your roadblocks are and I will truly help outline and help you understand the next steps and what that means to work with me and to feel more, so that you can really answer what it is that you feel called to do. So again, go down to the show notes right below. It will have a place where you can work with Lara. Click on that to schedule your free consultation, so that you cannot just feel-good right now, but that you can start feeling more. I’ll talk to you next week. 
23:32 – Speaker 1
Thank you for listening. Please share, review, and subscribe to this podcast so that together we can live life on purpose. Another nice new corner. 

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